As you begin the New Year, are you looking into updating your estate plan? Has it been a while since you pulled out your original Florida estate plan and really examined it? Have there been changes in your life and the lives of your close family? Have there been changes in the laws governing your Florida estate plan? Are you concerned about your plans to protect yourself and your family?
As you review your current Florida estate plan, does it:
All the questions listed above are difficult but they will enable you to think about your current estate plan and what you need to do to update it. We also have 4 tips to share with you to get you started on updating:
1. Think about who you have chosen to be your agent and act for you in your current estate plan in a crisis, is this person still the person you trust and want to select? Is this person readily available?
2. Do you have the same person acting as an agent for you with health care decisions and financial decisions? Are you contemplating having a different person for your health care decisions versus your financial decisions?
3. Are you concerned that you had named your spouse, but are now concerned that your spouse may not be up to the responsibility? What should you do now?
4. Should there be multiple backup people? Also, should you name both of your children to serve as agents together or as personal representatives together?
Now would be a good time to contact your Florida estate planning attorney to assist you in updating your estate plan. He will be current with all laws regarding Florida estate planning and probate, federal and state tax changes and more in regard to a comprehensive Florida estate plan. It is very important to periodically ensure that your Florida estate plan always reflects what you want, memorializes changes to your family structure if there are any, and gives the legal authority to your decision makers to act in a crisis.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to seeking and covering the cost of memory care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
Are you a Florida senior? Are you finding it hard to believe that the end of the year is approaching? In fact, is it even harder to believe that in just a few short weeks it will be 2023? Are you busy finalizing your end of the year holiday plans with your children and grandchildren? Do you need to purchase last minute holiday gifts, prepare special family holiday dishes and finalize arrangements to spend time with your family? Actually, as you rush to make sure you have holiday gifts for all your children and grandchildren, we want to recommend the best gift you could give this year that does not even require gift wrapping!
What gift could we possibly be writing about? We are writing about creating a comprehensive Florida estate plan. This gift will let you make decisions about your assets and their distribution, choose your trusted agents to take care of your finances and your healthcare decisions and protect the legacy you want to continue when you pass away. With this gift you will give yourself and your loved ones peace of mind now, in the future and when you pass away.
As a Florida senior, are you wondering how to begin preparing an estate plan? Or do you have a Florida estate plan but have not looked at it in years? Or, finally, did you move to Florida from another state with an estate plan and never thought to make a Florida estate plan? Do you now have questions and wonder how to start? Do your thoughts include questions such as:
All of the above questions are important and we often hear questions just like them from our clients and their family members. As you work with your qualified Florida estate planning attorney to create your estate plan, you need to be assured that your estate plan will work when you need it to. This holiday season, a completed Florida estate plan that lets your loved ones know what you want for yourself and for them is quite possibly the best gift you can give and it does not even need to be gift wrapped.
Finally, we want you to know that while Florida estate planning is a critical part of your health and well being there is a second planning component that needs to be addressed and completed as well. This is your long-term care planning. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans will need some form of long-term care once they reach the age of 70, so the time for planning is now. You need to know that much of this care is not covered by Medicare and will, instead, fall on you, the Florida senior, to pay for out of pocket. As Florida estate planning and elder law attorneys we can assure you it does not have to be this way. We can work with you to create not only an estate plan but also a long-term care plan that can protect the estate plan you are putting in place and allow you to be able to leave a legacy for your family, no matter what the future holds.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to seeking and covering the cost of memory care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
As a senior, have you thought about what would happen if you were to suddenly become incapacitated? Who would take care of you and where would the care take place, in your home or in a nursing home? With less than half of all Americans today having an estate plan, is it any wonder that even fewer have planned for their long-term care needs. Long-term care planning addresses the need for a possible future where you may need to rely on another person each day due to physical or mental cognitive issues. This means, in simple terms, a time when you cannot safely care for yourself.
We speak with seniors and their loved ones each day on what it means to need long-term care and how to plan successfully to meet those needs. We want to share some quick planning tips that can make a difference for Florida long-term care that you can use and begin to get the answers that you need.
1. Start planning now, do not put it off! When it comes to long-term care most people either do not plan at all or start planning too late. Of course, no one wants to think about a future that would involve the need for long-term care, but the best gift you can give yourself is to have a plan in place so that should the time come, you are prepared and not at risk.
2. Start researching long-term care, the cost of long-term care and how you can pay for it. Long-term care in any setting is expensive. So begin by looking at your finances. You can learn the cost for the type of care in our state by using this link from the Genworth Cost of Care Survey. Become familiar with the different types of long-term care. Most people do not want to live in a nursing home, however, there are many steps in between nursing home care and home care. These steps range from homebase care to independent care to assisted-living care and skilled nursing home care, there are many options. You can use this link we want to share with you from the AARP website.
3. Start looking into long-term care insurance, now, before you need it. Long-term care insurance is a type of insurance that can provide financial assistance should you need long-term care. Find out now if long-term care insurance is an option for you. In addition, if you have a new diagnosis or a chronic condition, speak freely with your doctor about what you should expect in the future. While your long-term care needs are unique to you, your doctor knows you and will be able to give you advice on what to understand and potentially plan for. You should not put off speaking with a long-term care insurance agent to learn more about what your options might be.
4. Speak with an experienced Florida elder law attorney who knows long-term care planning. An experienced elder law attorney will be able to advise you on what your options are for long-term planning in numerous circumstances. He will help you devise a plan to make sure you, your family, and what you care about most, is protected. In addition, your attorney can be sure your estate plan is up-to-date and reflects what you want. While it is not a long-term care plan, through your estate plan you can give legal authority for healthcare and financial decisions to another person that you trust. You can also designate this person or persons the authority to make decisions when you are not able to do so independently. Long-term care, the aging process, and family relationships are all complicated. Your experienced Florida elder law attorney is there to assist you in all your decisions in regard to your Florida long-term care and estate plan.
We know this list may seem daunting. We also know you may have more questions now that you have read it. Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to seeking and covering the cost of memory care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
Are you planning to make an appointment with a Florida estate planning attorney and create your estate plan? Have you been putting it off because you have so little time? Having an estate plan is critical, however, it is even more critical if you have a loved one with Down syndrome. When you have a loved one with Down syndrome it can result in both mental and physical challenges for your loved one. You and your loved one need planning protections in place for whatever the future holds for your loved one with Down syndrome.
As the parent of a loved one with Down syndrome you have been both an advocate and caregiver for your loved one. As a parent, advocate and caregiver, you are in charge of many daily tasks including, but not limited to, the following:
• Personally caring for your loved one
• Being sure to protect and advocate for your loved one’s rights
• Making sure your loved one has access to education
• Securing government benefits
• Locating and regularly visiting doctors and specialists
• Organizing and managing prescription medications
• Keeping a stable home environment
• Assist your loved one in all interactions, including with family members and the outside world
• Always protecting your loved one from harm
• Staying aware so that your loved one is not taken advantage of
With so much responsibility for your loved one, the idea that there might come a time when you are no longer here to care for your loved one can be frightening. That is why planning ahead and putting protections in place for your loved one with Down syndrome is so important.
In fact, this is where we can begin the discussion on estate planning and being sure that your loved one is protected should there come a time when you are no longer here to care for him or her. With a comprehensive Florida estate plan you can choose who your successor is for your loved one’s person as well as have a plan in place for your loved one’s financial stability. By planning ahead with your Florida estate planning attorney, who is experienced in this area, you can work together to create a care team that can act in your place when you are no longer here.
By working with your Florida estate planning attorney you will create your estate plan for your loved one with Down syndrome. Your plan will probably include special needs planning because estate planning in this area can include:
• A special needs trust
• Making choices regarding future healthcare decision makers
• Planning for the financial security of your loved one
• Transition plans to ensure someone can access government benefits
As the parent of a loved one with Down syndrome your daily care and attention is knowledge that is invaluable to anyone coming after you. You should consider making a detailed list of instructions on just what it is you do. In fact, we know many loved ones of family members with Down syndrome have fought significant battles for years and they know both what to do and what not to do when it comes to caring for their loved one. With that said, it is important for you to provide instructions for future advocates so they are not at risk of not knowing what to do in specific situations.
Your estate planning attorney has the experience to talk to you about what it means to create a special needs trust for your loved one with Down syndrome. You want to share your concerns with your attorney as well as what your goals for the future are. Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to seeking and covering the cost of memory care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
Are you searching for some key ideas on how to avoid probate in Florida? Are you contemplating creating an estate plan? Are you planning to at least create a last will and testament sometime in the future? Is your idea that with a last will and testament you can avoid probate? We encourage you to keep reading.
First, creating a Florida last will and testament is extremely important. That being said, it cannot be used to avoid probate and this is why. A will is a set of instructions for your personal representative, who you choose when you create your will. Your will directs your personal representative, with written instructions, in how to distribute all of your assets. You may have assets that include a house, a vehicle, bank or brokerage accounts or personal items. Now, the important information you need to know is that upon your passing your personal representative will be required to probate your will. Probate takes time and, possibly, money from your estate. Now, knowing all about a will, you should consider other estate planning tools if you want to keep your assets out of probate.
A key idea to avoid probate would be to use the estate planning tool called a trust. We recommend you meet with your Florida estate planning attorney to discuss the addition of a trust to your estate plan. He may advise that a revocable trust would be a good way to avoid putting your estate through probate. In addition to creating your trust, your Florida estate planning attorney will help you put all your current assets into your trust. Now once you have worked with your Florida estate planning attorney and created and funded your trust you may think you are done. However, that is not the case. As time goes by, there may be many changes in your assets, you may sell some assets and acquire other assets. The key idea here is that in order to avoid probate all changes in your assets must be reflected in your trust. Do not forget to put your new assets into your trust! The key idea is to be aware that only the assets in your trust will avoid probate. Any other assets you may have acquired, but forgot or erred to put into the trust, will have to go through probate.
A key idea, and one that is often overlooked, is to have a plan in place to meet annually or biannually with your Florida estate planning attorney. You and your attorney can look at all your estate planning tools to make sure they are up-to-date and that you can still accomplish your goal of having your estate avoid probate.
Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to seeking and covering the cost of memory care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
Have you created an estate plan? Are you planning to? Did you know that, according to a 2022 wills survey, less than one-third of Americans have an estate plan in place? Interestingly, though, almost two-thirds of Americans admit that having an estate plan is important. The primary reason why people do not have an estate plan in place, even though they believe it is important, is because they believe that they do not have enough assets, according to this same survey. We would like to discuss four important reasons for you to begin working with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney to create an estate plan to protect your assets and your wishes.
1. Minimize estate taxes. By creating your estate plan you may be able to minimize the amount of taxes your estate may have to pay. It depends on the size of your estate and the location of your property, as to whether the tax burden may be very substantial if the proper estate plan is not put into place.
2. Take care of your children. There are multiple reasons why estate planning can be important if you have children. One very important reason is that you have the opportunity to name in your will who you would want to raise your children in the event of your death. If you do not have a will with this information, the court will probably have to step in and make that decision. Another important reason is in the handling of your assets for your children. You, of course, want to decide how your assets are distributed to your children in the event of your death. However, if you die without an estate plan, the decision about the distribution of your assets will probably be governed by the laws of the state of Florida.
3. You want everything private. Are you concerned about the public nature of probate? Do you want to keep your estate affairs more private? By working with a Florida estate planning attorney you can take advantage of a variety of estate planning documents that can help you accomplish this task.
4. You need to plan for incapacity. Are you aware that estate planning is not just about what happens to your assets when you die? In fact, no matter what your age or what your assets are, what would happen if you were suddenly incapacitated due to an accident or illness? Who would pay your bills, monitor your business, take care of your children or make medical decisions? All of these questions can be answered in a good and thorough Florida estate plan.
Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to creating a good Florida estate plan. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
The holidays have ended, the New Year is here and the question is, did you make any resolutions? In January we know many Floridians are focusing on how they will reach the resolutions they set. If you did make resolutions, what are they? Did you focus on work, or health, or family? Did you include creating or updating your Florida estate plan?
We strongly recommend that one of the most important New Year’s resolutions you can make this year is to create or update your Florida estate plan. Your estate plan can protect you both during life and at the time of your death. By working with your attorney during your lifetime you can create a plan that ensures your choices for your health care and finances are honored by your chosen decision maker. Your attorney will also show you how you can ensure that your family will be provided for when you pass away.
Do you have an estate plan? If your answer is yes, this is great news. However, if you already have a plan in place, time is of the essence to make sure that it reflects your wishes for yourself and your loved ones. As everyone knows, many changes can happen within your family, your business, and your finances in a year. It is important to make sure your estate plan remains effective in not only summarizing the desired future for you and your loved ones, but also has the best tools in place to accomplish those goals.
Are you ready to get started? We want to share four tips you may use as you work on your Florida estate plan in the new year.
1. If your immediate family members have changed, make it a priority to update your Florida estate plan. This is critical. Whenever there is a birth, death, divorce, or other life update, contact your attorney to determine if your estate plan needs any updates or significant changes.
2. If you do not have a Florida estate plan, you are truly unprotected if you are over 18 years of age. In the event of a crisis or death, there will be no guidance for your family, your bank, your friends, or the court system. By not taking the time to create an estate plan, the court in Florida may be required to step in, in order for there to be legal authority for another to act on your behalf. This can be time consuming, costly, and public, and can be avoided by completing your estate planning while you have the capacity to do so.
3. Get started now, not later, with creating a plan or updating it! To maximize the potential benefits a Florida estate plan has to offer, it is important to put the plan in place sooner rather than later.
4. Your best resource for creating or updating your estate plan is your Florida estate planning attorney. He can discuss with you the importance of lifetime planning using tools such as the durable power of attorney for your finances. He can help you choose your decision maker, as well as a back up decision maker, for times of crisis. He can also discuss with you the difference between will based estate planning and trust based estate planning.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. We want to help you achieve the New Year’s resolution of having a Florida estate plan that can meet your needs. We strive to provide our clients with the security and peace of mind that comes from knowing their estate plan is in proper order and that our team of friendly professionals is always ready to help their family in times of need. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
Are you in the midst of last minute planning as the end of the year approaches? Are you ready for the year 2022? Even with the pandemic continuing, most of us are busy finalizing our end of the year plans. As part of this planning, you should take stock of what has happened this year, reflect on your goals for the coming year, and decide what you want for next year and into the future.
Do you have goals for yourself, your loved ones, and your legacy as you reflect on the past year and look to the future? We encourage you to not only take the time to think about the immediate actions that must be completed before the end of the year, but also think about what the future may hold for you. Most importantly, Included in your consideration should be either completing or updating your Florida estate plan with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney.
Do you have a current Florida estate plan? If your answer is yes, have you updated it recently? Do you have questions on where to begin to update it? Consider the following ten questions that you may use, in addition to your own, to ensure that you have the peace of mind that can come from good estate planning.Who will make your decisions if you are not able to make them for yourself?
1. Who will make your decisions if you are not able to make them for yourself?
2. Will your out-of-state estate planning documents be valid and acceptable in Florida?
3. Who could handle your business affairs if you could not?
4. What would happen to your pets if you were hospitalized?
5. Should your adult children be in charge of your finances?
6. Do you need additional insurance policies?
7. Will your retirement plans be able to support you as you age?
8. Do you have a taxable estate?
9. Has your accountant or investment advisor recommended you make gifts?
10. Have there been any changes in your family structure that necessitate the need to update your planning?
We often hear questions, like the above, from our clients and their family members. When it comes to Florida estate planning, you need to know your plan will work when you need it to.If you need assistance establishing a strong estate plan, we are here to help. Please contact our office to schedule an appointment time.
Did you know that Estate Planning Awareness Week is recognized in October? No matter your age or how much money you have, estate planning can be an important part of your financial health. Estate planning is critical for Florida residents who want to ensure their wishes are respected in the event of temporary incapacitation or upon their death. Knowing the uncertainty of what tomorrow might bring, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, having an estate plan in place provides security and peace of mind. Also, regularly updating what you have put in place can help ensure that security and peace of mind will continue.
Estate planning may be simple or complex, depending on your age, marital and parental status, and what kind of assets you have. For most people, creating a will, choosing a power of attorney and health care surrogate, and designating specific beneficiaries for bank and retirement accounts are what they want to protect the future they desire for themselves and their loved ones.
The first step is often writing a last will and testament. You decide to whom you would like to leave any assets, how to divide your estate, and whether you want to set up a trust that would allow your spouse or partner to live comfortably while preserving assets for children and grandchildren. It is also important to designate specific account beneficiaries for bank and retirement accounts, and make sure the beneficiary you have chosen is in line with your will.
A power of attorney can allow you to choose someone to make financial or legal decisions on your behalf. If durable, this power will survive, even in the event you become incapacitated. A healthcare surrogate will allow you to choose someone to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. You can choose a trusted loved one to fill both roles or choose two different people who may be better suited to one or the other. The important part is that, by planning ahead now, you get to make your own choices.
Remember, it is very important to check in regularly with your estate plan and to make any changes that may be necessary due to life events, changes in law, or under other circumstances. Also, regularly updating your account beneficiaries ensures they are in line with what you have in your will and broader estate plan.
This Estate Planning Awareness Week, take the time to learn more about the importance of estate planning and the steps you need to take in order to establish a strong estate plan. In times of great uncertainty, an estate plan can bring much needed peace. For more information, please reach out to our office and schedule a time to meet.